The Only 5 Congressmen Expelled From The House Of Representatives Before George Santos

The resolution came from a fellow Missourian. It was July 13, 1861, and John Bullock Clark, a Missouri Democrat, was about to be the first member of the House of Representatives in history to be expelled. Rep. Francis Blair read his resolution accusing Clark of treason. Since Clark had "taken up arms against the Government of the United States," he had "forfeited all right to sit as a Representative" and should be "expelled and declared to be no longer a Member of this House" Blair proposed, per "Hinds' Precedents of the House of Representatives of the United ..., Volume 2."

It wasn't hard to prove. By the time of the resolution, Clark had already fought as a Confederate at the Battle of Boonville. In fact, he hadn't even bothered to come to Washington D.C. to be sworn in. The vote was 94 to 45. Clark was the first, but not the last that year. The House ousted two other representatives who'd sided with the South during the Civil War — John Reid and Henry Burnett. It would be nearly 120 years until the next congressman got the ax. In 1980, an FBI sting nabbed Michael Myers, a Democrat from Pennsylvania, which ended his Congressional career. James Traficant was the fifth representative to get the boot before George Santos, whom the House expelled on December 1, 2023. Traficant, an Ohio Democrat, found himself on the chopping block following federal bribery and related convictions in 2002.

Rebels expelled

John Bullock Clark had already served in the U.S. House of Representatives for one term before the Civil War broke out in April 1861, according to "More Generals in Gray." He held the rank of brigadier general in the Missouri State Guard, a Confederate militia, and after being wounded in battle became a member of the Confederate States Congress as a representative and later as a senator. After the war, he again ran for the U.S. Congress but lost out to his son.

John Reid and Henry Burnett also actively served the Confederacy during the Civil War. Reid, another Democrat from Missouri, had already stepped down from his role as a representative by the time his fellow Congressmen ousted him. He served in the Confederate Army as a general's volunteer aide, fought in the Confederate Army, and was a senator for Kentucky in the Confederate States Congress.

More recent times

Nearly 120 years after the House of Representatives expelled the first three U.S. representatives, Michael "Ozzie" Myers found himself in the crosshairs of the FBI and then his fellow representatives. In 1980, a federal jury convicted Myers, a two-term Congressman from Pennsylvania, of taking a bribe from undercover FBI agents portraying rich Arabs in the infamous Abscam case, per UPI. The House expelled him that October. In September 2022. A federal judge sentenced Myers to 30 months in prison on charges related to ballot stuffing, per the U.S. Justice Department.

In 2002, another U.S. representative fell afoul of the law and the House. That April a federal jury found James Traficant, a nine-term Democrat from Ohio, guilty of a slew of corruption charges. Three months later, in July, the House of Representatives ousted Traficant in a 420 to 1 vote, according to the AP. A week later a judge sentenced him to eight years in prison, per a separate AP story. He attempted to run for Congress again while still incarcerated but lost. He died in 2014. On December 1, 2023, George Santos — who is facing federal charges that include money laundering related in part to campaign funds — became the sixth U.S. representative to be expelled from the House in a 311 to 114 vote. He denied the criminal charges at the time.